Palazzo has served as the CAS interim dean since October 1, 2012.
“I could not be more pleased with Dr. Palazzo’s performance as interim dean, and it is with great excitement that I announce his appointment as dean,” Lucas said. “He has worked effectively with faculty, staff and students across the college, from the sciences to the performing arts.”
Palazzo came to UAB while taking a leave from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y., where he had been a professor of biology since 2002. Palazzo was provost of RPI from 2007 to 2011, and he served as acting provost prior to that. He was the acting director and director of the Institute’s Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies from 2004 to 2006. Palazzo was chair of the biology department there from 2002 to 2005.
“Dean Palazzo has shown a great commitment to UAB, and he has extensive experience as an educator, researcher, leader and mentor,” Lucas said. “I look forward to a very bright future for the CAS.”
The CAS is home to academic disciplines that include the arts, humanities and sciences. It was created after an academic realignment commission reviewed and assessed various options for the organization of UAB’s non-medical schools in 2009.
“In the College of Arts and Sciences, I have found a community of wise and trusted scholars built on transparency, communication and trust,” Palazzo said. “The mutual appreciation of the relevance of instruction in their shared fields of humanities and the arts, social and behavioral sciences, mathematics and the natural sciences makes the College a unique place for students to learn and to grow. I am honored to have been considered for the position of dean.”
Committed to the UAB spirit of independence and innovation, the college enables students to design their own majors, participate in undergraduate or graduate research or complete graduate degrees on a five-year fast track. Through productive partnerships, flexible curricula and a bold, interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, the college is preparing students for success in the ever-changing global marketplace of commerce and ideas.
“I am deeply impressed by the intellectual breadth, scholarship and the sense of rigor exhibited by the College of Arts and Sciences faculty,” Palazzo said. “Their commitment to the students is obvious and inspiring. The College will play a crucial role in strengthening the international reputation of UAB and the city of Birmingham.”
Palazzo earned his doctoral degree in biological sciences at Wayne State University in 1984; he received his bachelor’s degree in biology there in 1979. He also spent a year as a research associate and completed a three-year post doctorate in the University of Virginia’s biology department.
His previous experience includes serving as a visiting professor at Harvard University Medical School and 10 years with the University of Kansas in a variety of roles, including chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and professor for the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Prior to his work in Kansas, Palazzo spent three years as an assistant scientist and principal investigator for the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.
Palazzo is on the board of advisors for Scientific American Magazine. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Cell Biology and a Corporation Member of the Marine Biological Laboratory. He is widely published in scientific journals.
His research interests include centrosomes and cellular organization, cell replication and cancer, fertilization and reproduction, regulation of cell motility and drug discovery.
Thomas Wdowiak, UAB astrophysicist and scientist who worked with the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, passed away at age 73Wdowiak was best known as a co-investigator with the Mars Athena mission. The mission landed dual rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on the Red Planet in January and February, 2004. He operated the Mössbauer spectrometer, a device that measures how gamma rays are changed by the iron atoms of the objects they strike, on the rovers and analyzed the data. The Athena mission identified hematite, a common mineral believed to only be found near water, which enforced theories that water existed in the past on Mars.
“Personally, I've known very few people with the talent he held for bringing together a wide range of scientific endeavors for a common cause,” said Perry Gerakines, Ph.D., a research space scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and former UAB astrophysicist. “Ultimately, he got to live his dream and touched another world by working in the Mars program. Professor Wdowiak was a person who believed in the power of science to change the world for the better, and he tried to instill that passion in each of the many students he taught at UAB over the years.”
It is estimated Wdowiak taught astronomy to 10,000 students during his 30 years at UAB. He taught Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., a member of the space shuttle Columbia crew, and the first optometrist in space, who is currently director of UAB’s Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering (CBSE). He also taught Luther Beegle, Ph.D., who is one of only three surface sampling scientists working on Curiosity, the latest U.S. Mars probe.
“Tom was a friend and colleague for whom I had great respect,” DeLucas said. “He was an out-of-the-box thinker with innovative ideas for many of NASA’s exploration goals. This rare quality combined with his in-depth knowledge of physics and optics led to multiple collaborations with NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Ca. He was selected as one of a number of scientists to operate the Mars Rover via the remote operations facility at the Jet Propulsion Lab. I will never forget his excitement. He commented that he felt like he actually ‘touched the surface of Mars’ by commanding the robotic arm to crush a Martian rock. Tom was also a superb teacher. He understood the importance of stimulating youth to pursue careers in science and engineering.”
Wdowiak became a scientist at the age of seven and had built and launched his first rocket by high school. He believed firmly in reaching young scientists early, and for several years had a column for children that appeared monthly in Saturday editions of The Birmingham News and The Birmingham Post Herald called Tommy Test Tubes, which was the name his childhood friends gave him. The opening sentence of his article entitled Building your own laboratory captured his sense of humor and his desire to make science accessible to all: “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to have a real scientist’s lab.”
Written By: Kevin Storr
When it comes to being conservative, black people have been mislabeled, according to a new book by aUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) professor.
There is this overarching belief that African Americans are extremely liberal and support liberal ideas like unlimited welfare assistance and an open lifestyle,” said Angela Lewis, Ph.D., associate professor ofgovernment. “This characterization of black people is incorrect.”
Lewis recently penned “Conservatism in the Black Community” as part of the Routledge Series on Identity Politics. The book looks at how conservatism among black people — from slavery up to today — is different from that of whites. In the book, Lewis categorizes conservatism in the black community into four groups, and supports each with longitudinal data.
“When you think of black conservative pundits who are always on TV and conservative everyday black people, they are not the same,” Lewis said.
More than one-third of the black population identifies themselves as conservative, she said. Of that group, however, more than 90 percent support the Democratic Party, considered a more liberal political group.
Lewis found this interesting and set out to find out why. She conducted focus groups in Birmingham, Chicago and Atlanta. She found that when African Americans talked about conservatism, they rarely mentioned politics. Instead, they talked about their lifestyle, morals and values. And, they were able to compartmentalize their views on lifestyle in order to support a political party they feel is more compassionate toward marginalized groups and the poor.
Often, the pundits speaking for black conservatism are aligned with the Republican Party and do not support issues like affirmative action, a policy that the typical black conservative does, according to Lewis.
“The media needs to have more than these pundits representing conservatism because they are not representative of black conservative thought,” she said.
- Update on the College of Arts and Sciences Dean Search
- Gaps Exist in Brain Injury Knowledge Among Veterans
- Associate Dean David Schwebel Named Recipient of the 2013 Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize
- UAB Students do Well at Legislative Conference
- Update on CAS Dean Search
- UAB’s UNCF/Merck Scholarship Winners Connected by Chemistry